When High Moon Studios told CVG a few months back that it was hoping for an 'Arkham Asylum-like reception' to its origins story Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, it was a warning shot that the Californian studio felt ready to mingle with the big boys of games development. Sure enough, this quasi-sequel to 2010's War For Cybertron is a bolder and brassier game, with an eye for cinematic bombast.
While Transformers: WFC was a fun but vanilla third-person shooter, Fall Of Cybertron prefers to carry itself like a contemporary console blockbuster should, its thirteen campaign missions encompassing everything from high-octane chase scenes to moments of quiet contemplation, via collectable audio logs shipped in direct from BioShock. By increasing its wingspan however, Fall for Cybertron meets with as much grief as reward.
Let's start with the good, because there's an awful lot of it. The one area in which Transformers: Fall of Cybertron undoubtedly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Batman: Arkham series is its reverence and appreciation for its source material.
Like Rocksteady's Gotham, High Moon's depiction of Cybertron is more than just a digital carbon copy of existing Transformers lore. Instead, High Moon's efforts build upon and expands the existing Transformers universe, rather than clinging onto the back of it like a limpet.
The sights you take in over the course of Fall of Cybertron's campaign are testament to the game's ambition to create Transformers history, rather than just report on it. While most associated media over the past 28 years has largely dismissed the Transformers' metallic homeland, T:FOC burrows deep into Cybertron's outer shell and finds beneath a thriving, varied and interesting world of varying topography.
Sights range from the optic-searing sandstorms of the Sea of Rust, to the jagged, pulsating tunnels of the innermost Insecticon hives, to the piercing purple lights and sense of foreboding that consume Kaon, the oppressive Decepticon capital. The visual variety is matched in the way each level plays, due to a busy storyline that hops from robot to robot - and from Autobot to Decepticon - almost on a chapterly basis.